Hong Kong has a well-developed public health care system, and if a permanent resident has a valid visa and identity card, they can use the health system for free or at little cost. But because of the structural problems of the public sector, more often than not the only alternative is to use the private sector, which is very expensive if you do not have individual health insurance.
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Health insurance for expats in Hong Kong
How does the healthcare system work in Hong Kong?
Based on the British model, Hong Kong's system offers all its citizens and permanent residents free and almost universal access to health care, specifically, everything that the public sector offers.
However, this sector has been experiencing structural problems for several years. Spurred by higher salaries, the majority of the country's health professionals prefer to work in the private sector, to the detriment of public hospitals, which are consequently understaffed and overcrowded. The system also has its limitations―dentistry, for example, is not included.
Invariably, to get faster access to treatment and to avoid long wait times, the only alternative is to turn to the private sector, even though the care it provides is not covered by the social security system and is extremely expensive.
How to choose health insurance in Hong Kong: local or international?
This precarious situation has resulted in a large number of citizens and residents in Hong Kong taking out private health insurance. Additionally, more and more local employers are offering this benefit to their employees.
Be careful, however, as the coverage of local insurers' health policies is often limited. Many come with significant deductibles, limits on coverage and frustrating wait periods. The conditions of coverage for beneficiaries also vary greatly from one insurer to another.
Another option is to take out international health insurance. Usually, this is more advantageous as it can offer a higher level of coverage than that offered by Hong Kong insurers, as well as many other benefits (depending on the policy taken out).
What is the cost of healthcare in Hong Kong?
For a consultation with a specialist, you will pay between HKD 1,200 to 2,500 (US$154 to US$320)
APRIL International up to 275 €*
Out-of-pocket expenses 0€**
HOSPITALISATION - APPENDICITIS
A laparoscopic appendectomy (3-4 days in hospital) will cost you HKD 250,000 (US$31,850)
APRIL International up to 29720 €*
Out-of-pocket expenses 0€**
HOSPITALISATION - MATERNITY
A natural delivery without complications (3 days in hospital) costs around HKD 170,000 (US$21,650)
APRIL International up to 6000 €*
Out-of-pocket expenses 14210€**
Example of the cost of care provided in the private sector, not covered by the Hong Kong Social Security - Reasonable procedure costs, APRIL International Care 01/2022.
* Example of reimbursement with MyHealth International - Comfort
** Example of the amount to be paid by the insured after reimbursement
Care in Hong Kong
Choosing hospitals in Hong Kong
The system in Hong Kong has a two-tier structure encompassing the public and private sectors. There are 43 public hospitals and 13 private hospitals, where it is possible to find English-speaking doctors as many have studied abroad in English-speaking countries.
In general, Hong Kong's public health system is of a very high standard in terms of modernity and equipment, but its infrastructure is beginning to show cracks under the pressure of an ever-growing population that relies heavily on its services. Moreover, 60% of health professionals work in the private sector, compared to only 40% in the public sector where long wait times and staff shortages are commonplace.
The use of private hospitals is therefore becoming increasingly necessary, despite their very high fees. However, by using the establishments listed in the health network of your international insurance, you can significantly reduce your costs.
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